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“I Just Want to Tell True Stories” – 17 Inspiring Quotations by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"I Just Want to Tell True Stories" - 17 Inspiring Quotations by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
AmericanahWe Should All Be FeministsThe Thing Around Your NeckHalf of a Yellow SunPurple Hibiscus

We can’t get enough of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and when she speaks, we listen.

From the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, We Should All Be Feminists, The Thing Around Your Neck and Purple Hibiscus, we bring you 17 of the best quotes on storytelling, feminism and politics.

Prepare to bask in her awesomeness:


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1. On being a feminist:

For me, feminism is about justice. I’m a feminist because I want to live in a world that is more just. I’m a feminist because I want to live in a world where a woman is never told that she can or cannot or should or should not do anything because she is a woman. I want to live in a world where men and women are happier. Where they are not constrained by gender roles. I want to live in a world where men and women are truly equal. And that’s why I’m a feminist.

2. On the oppression of women:

I can’t not be angry. I don’t know how you can just be calm. My family says to me, “Oh, you’re such a man!” – you know, very lovingly … But of course I’m not, I just don’t see why I shouldn’t speak my mind.

3. On winning “Best of the Best” of The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction:

When you are writing you don’t know what is going to happen. You are alone in your study for months, for years. You write a book, you send it out to the world. It’s like sending out your child that you love, and not knowing if this child will be embraced by the world. So when it happens … For me this is a wondrous embrace, to be selected best of the best, and also because I think that the books that have won have been really remarkable books! I have a lot of respect for the books that not only have won the prize, but that have been shortlisted.

4. On Pope Francis:

Pope Francis inspires me. Not because of his much-touted humility — other popes who went along with papal pomp might merely have been tradition-compliant rather than lacking in humility — but because of his humanity.

5. In an interview with Zadie Smith, on writing strong female characters:

I hear from people, “Your female characters are so strong, how do you do that?”

For me, I’m writing about women who are familiar. Not to say that all the women I know are strong and have their shit together, they’re not. But to say that the idea of a woman being strong and simply being strong not to prove anything, or not to be unusual, is normal to me.

6. On makeup, gender injustice and privilege:

I wasn’t very interested in makeup until I was in my 20s, which is when I began to wear makeup. Because of a man. A loud, unpleasant man.

7. 13 quotes from Adichie’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture:

I’ve actually found that the older I get, the less interested I am in how the West sees Africa, and the more interested I am in how Africa sees itself.

8. On African writers:

I think the voices of the African diaspora are important too, but I think there’s often a silence in our voices from the continent.

The following quotes are excerpted from A Quotionary: The Ultimate Collection of Quotations About Writing and Writers, by Jenny Hobbs:


Language and style are very important to me. I am a keen admirer of good prose stylists and I can tell, right away, which writers pay attention to style. I care about the rhythm of a sentence. I care about word choice. I much respect poetic prose done well.


I just want to tell true stories.


When I start off I want to tell a story that I’m pleased with and that I hope somebody else will be connected to. I think by doing that one is challenging stereotypes, because the thing about stereotypes is that they’re not human, they’re not complex. So when you start to tell human and complex stories the hope is that people come away from those stories realising that the world is not just a single story. Our stories matter. Everybody’s story matters.


I’m such a believer in stories and how powerful stories are. Because stories are human and they draw you in; they’re not abstract arguments. In some ways it’s a safer space, so people who don’t necessarily agree with me politically can still get into that story.


The novels I love have an empathetic quality or emotional truth.


In the end I’m interested in what it means to be human. I think that’s what my writing is about: what it means to be a human being.


I always feel one step removed from everything. I’m always watching, looking for what I can mine for my fiction. I’m very curious about the world.


I am an unrepentant eavesdropper and a collector of stories. I record bits of overhead dialogue.

And one more from Goodreads:


Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.

Related stories:


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